Allegory of Virtue and Nobility
c. 1747-48
Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (Italian, 1696-1770)
On View

In this monumental painting, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo depicts the triumph of Virtue and Nobility over the vice of Ignorance, all three personified by female figures. Nobility, wrapped in saffron- and rose-colored fabric, and winged Virtue, holding a crown of laurels, look down with disdain at the tumbling figure of Ignorance, who is cast into shadows by a furious cherub. To the left, Fame blows a trumpet to announce the victory. For the elite viewers for whom the work was created, intellectual interest in the allegorical subject matter was matched with delight at impressive illusionistic effect—one of Tiepolo’s characteristic talents. In its original setting, fixed to the ceiling of a grand room in the Palazzo Dolfin-Manin in Venice, the painting would have altered the perception of space, seemingly puncturing the architecture of the palace to grant access to a mythological realm.


  • Artist Name: Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (Italian, 1696-1770)
  • Title: Allegory of Virtue and Nobility
  • Date: c. 1747-48
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: 126 x 154-1/2 in. (320 x 392.4 cm)
  • Credit Line: The Norton Simon Foundation
  • Accession Number: F.1972.26.P
  • Copyright: © The Norton Simon Foundation

Object Information

Palazzo Dolfin-Manin, Venice, still in 1799.
Edward Cheney (d. 1884), Badger Hall, Shropshire, London and Venice, by descent to;
Alfred Capel-Cure, Badger Hall, Shropshire, by descent to;
Francis Capel-Cure, Badger Hall, Shropshire in 1894, sold 1932.
Alessandro Contini-Bonacossi, Florence, by 1935, by descent to;
Heirs of the Contini-Bonacossi Estate, Florence, sold 1972, through;
[E.V. Thaw and Co., Inc., New York, to];
The Norton Simon Foundation.

[on loan]

  • Houston, The Museum of Fine Arts, 1974 to
Modern, Heinrich, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, eine Studie, p. 13
Wright, Craig M., Listening to Music, fig. 7-1 p. 123
Barbin, M.; A. Delneri, A. Momo, M. Murraro and Dario Succi, I Tiepolo: virtuososmi e ironia, under nos. 32, 33 pp. 128-129
Sack, Eduard, Giambattista und Domenico Tiepolo: Ihr Leben und ihre Werke, no. 559 p. 228
Mostra del Tiepolo dipinti, fig. 52
Succi, Dario, Giambattista Tiepolo: Uno straordinario capolavoro commissionato nel 1748 per il Palazzo Dolfin Manin a Rialto, fig. 3 p. 13
Molmenti, Pompeo, Tiepolo: La vie et l'oeuvre du peintre, n. 1 p. 187
University, A Princeton Quarterly,
Morse, John D., Old Master Paintings in North America, p. 225
Alpers, Svetlana; and Michael Baxandall, Tiepolo and the Pictorial Intelligence, fig. 47 pp. 32-35
Vigni, Giorgio, Tiepolo, color pl. VI
Knox, George, et al., La Serenissima: Eighteenth-Century Venetian Art, Fig. 30 p. 29
Masterpieces from the Norton Simon Museum, p. 104, 105, cover
Barcham, W. L., Giambattista Tiepolo 1696-1770, fig. 52 pp. 134-147
Morassi, Antonio, A Complete Catalogue of the Paintings of G. B. Tiepolo, fig. 351
Renato Miracco, Italian Treasures in the U.S. An Itinerary of Art, p. #42
McCorquodale, Charles, The Connoisseur, p. 211
Pedrocco, Filippo, Giambattista Tiepolo 1696-1770, p. 156
Palluchini, Anna, L'opera completa di Giambattista Tiepolo, no. 186, color pl. XXXII
Campbell, Sara, Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best, cat. 829 p. 342
Berenson, Bernard, The Venetian Painters of the Renaissance, p. 132/p. 126
Gemin, Massimo; and Filippo Pedrocco, Giambattista Tiepolo: I dipinti. Opera completa, no. 381 pp. 104, 130-131
Knox, George, Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies, fig. 15 pp. 65-72, 78
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Additional Artwork by Artist

Female Satyr Holding a Ewer Giovanni Battista Tiepolo c. 1730
Female Satyr with Tambourine Giovanni Battista Tiepolo c. 1730

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